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My Cancer Journey Part 2: What I Have Learned About Cancer Since my Diagnosis

This is the second part of a two-part story

After some time being very private about my diagnosis, I have learned that it is healthy to talk about my experience. Perhaps that’s why I am still here– to help even just one other person stay positive through their cancer journey.

Cancer is equally as mental as it is physical.

You need someone on your side–a cheerleader–when the going gets rough. Megan Barkhurst Mitchell, the palliative care nurse practitioner at Chesapeake Regional Healthcare’s Home & Supportive Care, was there through it all. She answered my questions, supported my ups, downs and my difficult days. Use your support team as much as you can.

Each cycle of chemo is different.

Some cycles I feel great and some I am completely fatigued. Fatigue is the largest side effect, and one for which there is no resolution. Medicines can help to control things like nausea, but the fatigue is just awful. The effects of chemo are truly not one size-fits-all or the same cycle-to-cycle. I am fortunate that I get to take a leave of absence from work during this journey to rest. I have so much respect for those who cannot.

The waiting game is one of the hardest parts of cancer.

You’re constantly waiting on results or treatment. And because knowledge is power, this is very stressful. I tell people to take advantage of all of the resources offered. 

Cancer is a marathon, not a sprint.

I plan to rid myself of cancer, but cancer is always in the background, even if you are successful physically. I plan to be here for a very long time, but this journey will never end. 

When the going gets rough, get positive.

Not everyone is as naturally positive as I am. It is important to “feel all the feels” but try to find the positive every day. Your body cannot fight the mental and the physical battles at the same time. Find a bright spot. Get support. In addition to Megan, I’m so lucky to have the support of a very loving husband, friends and extended family.

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